What To Do About Bad Reviews?

What To Do About Bad Reviews?

I have been very blessed that so far I have had only one bad review. Some authors have had more than that, but no matter how many you get it hurts.

So what do you do about bad reviews?

A few years back I received such a review about the novel Perished. Sandwiched between 4 star and 5 star reviews it still offended me. Did I write a nasty letter to the reviewer? Did I erase the review from Amazon?

No, and no. The worst mistake you can make is to remove a negative review. Actually a negative review highlights the positive reviews. Readers will see that lonely negative review and also the positive reviews. And most will rightly decide something was wrong with the reviewer.

The young man reviewing my book actually pointed out the problem in his review. He admitted that he didn’t finish the book. Then he proceeded to tell his reasons for not finishing the book.

And this is where anyone who read the book would immediately know the problem. He not only didn’t read the book to the finish, he jumped around. His main complaint was that some of the characters did not remain true to their characterization at the beginning. I spotted this immediately.

One of the problems with writing historical fiction is that some of the characters in the book are drawn from actual historical accounts. In the case of Perished I was writing about actual Biblical events and people which required the use of real names.

Sometimes these names were identical to others. So it was possible to have two or more characters with the same name. Now if the reader is following the story as it was written, it is easy to determine which character is front and center. But if you jump around, never a good idea, then you could easily get confused as to which character you are reading about.

So the review was not only a bad rating (2 stars), but it was a poor review in approach and content. One side of me wanted to write him and point out his failings, but I didn’t do that. Why?

Because doing so is not good form. Most writers and teachers of writing will warn you not to criticize the reviewer. It simply offends others.

So I bit my tongue, metaphorically speaking, and left the review there. As I stated earlier it highlights the 4 and 5 star reviews. It becomes a plus and eventually helps the marketing.

Another response though is to take that negative review and ask yourself questions. In this case I asked myself if I could have done a better job of identifying which character was present? Most of the time the answer to that question is yes.

It’s possible that I could have eliminated certain characters and used alternate or even fictional characters instead. Sometimes when complaints come you can rewrite the book or at least certain scenes. The principle here is to treat negative reviews as a learning experience.

You can also treat good reviews the same way. Sometimes a reviewer may point out an error or a problematic tendency in the book even though they gave the book 5 stars. Once again you can take that and turn it into a learning experience.

Which brings me to another point or principle: leaving the negative review in place can serve as a reminder to you (or me) that you can’t please all the people. So don’t take it personally. Instead try to turn it into a positive learning experience both in marketing and in writing. Such an attitude will improve you as a writer.

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books and is best known for Christian Historical Fiction. For more information on him or his books visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.

 

 

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I Will Show Forth All Thy … Works

I Will Show Forth All Thy … Works

The last part of Psalm 9:1 relates well to one of my favorite verses that inspires my writing, Psalm 71:18b, “until I have shown thy strength unto this generation.”(KJV). Here’s all of Psalm 9:1:

I will praise thee, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will show forth all thy marvellous works” (KJV).

Speaking as a Christian author these verses speak volumes to me. Since I believe God called and enabled me to write I feel it is important that my writings reflect His will, plans, and strength. You might say it makes sense since I write novels based on the Bible. But it would be true no matter what I wrote. For example, my novel Dead Eye Will is based on American history not Biblical. But I still wanted to honor God.

I think it can be safely said that authors like Tim LaHaye, Jerry Jenkins, and a host of Christian authors would be like-minded. The truth is that Christian authors are a cut above the average author. Don’t get me wrong, I am not speaking of talent or even smarts. I am talking about that when a professing Christian endeavors to do anything he/she is representing God. That puts a special burden upon us.

How we react to that burden or perhaps I should call it a challenge will impact how well we perform. And the burden doesn’t guarantee success. It is simply a challenge that affects how we approach writing whether it’s a novel or non-fiction.

This principal affects whatever a Christian does, whether a plumber, artist, teacher, CEO, laborer, or whatever. God expects us to put forth our very best and when we do, we reflect His works and His strength. It is our motivation. Because of what He did for us, we want to please Him and to tell others about Him.

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books and is best known for Christian Historical Fiction. For more information on him or his books visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.

When I consider Thy heavens

When I consider Thy heavens

When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?

This passage is deep with a rich supply of theology and application. But I want to zoom in on the first part: “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained.

The pride of men is such that they see all the handiwork of God, but refuse to believe that it was created by God. That view has pervaded our schools, government, and some churches. But the truth is that God is the Creator!

As a Christian author I have more than one motive for writing. Like all novelists I write to entertain, but I also have a Christian  motive: Psalm 71:18b, “until I have shown thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come.”

I don’t know what your motive is, but I imagine that assuming you’re a Christian you want to be a witness and to influence people for Christ. That doesn’t mean your book(s) have to preach or present the gospel, but it does mean that your book(s) should reflect your Christian beliefs.

As an example, I write historical fiction, primarily Biblical, while my wife is writing her first novel which is a mystery aimed at teens and adults. My Biblical books are based on actual events recorded in the Bible, whereas my wife’s novel will reflect modern living. In other words, we are writing for two entirely different genres.

Let’s get back to my books. My writings explore the relationships man has had with the Creator. Since my books are based on actual events they also include actual people some of which are good and some bad. Exploring this relationship excites me. It takes me deeper into God’s Word, which not only benefits the books but it benefits my own spiritual journey.

The worship of the Creator has been and still is a foundational doctrine for the Christian faith. Only the Creator has the right to be worshiped. Not only that but He has the right to demand our obedience to His will! He didn’t create us and then walk away. Every day He watches us and takes pleasure in us when we do His will. And I find that to be a blessing and an encouragement rather than a threat.

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books and is best known for Christian Historical Fiction. For more information on him or his books visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.

How I Wrote Perished Part II

How I Wrote Perished Part II

Back in July I wrote Part I about writing Perished. I had intended to write Part II before now but got a little sidetracked by other projects. I did write about Noah, but Part II is actually about the research involved in writing the novel.

Research is almost a dirty word, but it is necessary for both the non-fiction and fiction writer. For a novel to connect with the reader it needs to have actual facts. I use two methods of relating the facts:

  • To tell pertinent facts before and after the story (such as seen in the World of Noah and the Ark).
  • To include facts within the story (a practice I use in all my novels).

But how did I get the facts?

There are a number of ways.

  • Read the Bible accounts (assuming your book is based on the Bible).
  • Read history books.
  • Do a deep internet search.
  • Use logic based on historical facts.

If you are writing about the Bible it is obvious that you need to spend a great deal of time in the Bible. In the case of Perished I not only spent time in the Book of Genesis but I used other books in the Old Testament and New Testament that related to the subject. That required a great deal of time and effort.

The second item mentioned was reading history books. Not cover to cover but selecting those portions dealing with the subject. Depending on how many books you research this could take some time.

The third thing mentioned was do a deep internet search. By deep internet search I simply mean using search engines, such as Google, to search out the subject and find relevant resources. But a word of caution. While the internet is a rich source of information there is also false information. For example, there are sites that are anti-Bible. Some are self-proclaimed, but there are others who are more subtle. So you must be discerning. Find reliable resources such as Answers in Genesis and Institute for Creation Research. There are others but these are extremely reliable.

But it is the fourth item I want to spend some time on. While the Bible is true and accurate it only relates information that God wanted us to know. The whole purpose of the Bible is to show us our sin and need for a Saviour and that Christ is that Saviour. So it only relates the historical facts needed.

When writing Perished I ran into a big obstacle. While the Bible gives us a lot of facts about the world existing before the Flood, it doesn’t break it down for us. Added to this is the lack of secular history, especially anything reliable. A good example of unreliable secular history is the history of Egypt. If you want to spend a day or so struggling to put it all together try understanding Egyptian history in the light of world history. Very difficult.

So I was faced with a big unknown. I knew that the people from Adam to Noah were very intelligent and built cities, but I had no historical proof. That gap has been filled by man with evolution, which is strictly theoretical, unproven, and contrary to the Bible.

So how did I resolve this issue?

Let me give you a challenge: Find a history book that you think is reliable and start reading from known history beginning with Nimrod and other world leaders. Study the civilization that existed. Take a look at the:

  • Government.
  • Arts.
  • Industry.
  • Warfare.
  • and more.

I think you’d agree it was a very developed society. Now take a look at the preceding civilization. Evolution teaches eons of time, yet there is no real evidence that conclusively shows evolution. Instead there is evidence of a worldwide cataclysm, which we know was the Flood. So we arrive at a question: How did mankind go from a caveman society to a sophisticated society? Or, Biblically speaking, how did the world recover from the worldwide Flood which destroyed everything to a sophisticated society?

We are speaking of a 300 to 500 year time span. How is that possible? Well, logic tells us that it is impossible for that degree of sophistication to develop in such a short time from virtually nothing. BUT if Noah brought the knowledge over the Flood to the new world then everything falls into place!

And that opens up a window into the past!

It occurred to me that if I looked closely at the first 300-500 years after the Flood I had a window into what the previous civilization was like. While scientists never seem to consider such a fact, the movie industry easily adopted it. The movies I have watched, anyway, have shown a society that was quite sophisticated. Not because the industry believed the Bible, but because they had to use what they knew.

So when studying the ancient past prior to the Flood we have a window that shows us what that world was like before it was destroyed. And thereby I was able to construct that world within the pages of Perished.

Which is what research is all about. Now most of the time research isn’t so complicated. But it is needed! When someone buys a novel they want to be entertained, but they also want the world it takes place in to be accurate, true, and with some detail.

When I wrote Dead Eye Will, which took place during and after the War of 1812, I had to do a lot of research. Since most of the story took place in Ohio, Michigan, and portions of Canada I had quite a lot of research. But once again it involved three items – reading history, deep internet research, and logic.

Is it worth it?

My answer is as follows: By far most of the readers have rated my books 4 and 5 stars. One of the reasons was that I brought the story alive. The reader was able to enter the world and almost participate in it. And that is what any author wants!

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books and is best known for Christian Historical Fiction. For more information on him or his books visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.

Go to the ant, thou sluggard

Go to the ant, thou sluggard

“Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise” Prov. 6:6.

Has God called you to be a writer? Is it hard? Do you feel like quitting?

Here in Proverbs we learn that God takes a dim view of laziness and basically not doing the work. It is true that writing can be hard work. But if God truly called you to be a writer He never provided the option of quitting.

But I know how you feel. Before I ever published my first novel I often felt like quitting. Especially when a story would suddenly hit the wall and I knew it was going nowhere. While I did quit the novel, I never quit writing. And it is important to know there is a difference!

Anyone who has been a writer for awhile has had to change directions at least once but probably more often than they might want to admit. When writing you are investing a part of yourself and it becomes very difficult to stop and reject the work. However, if you consider what you have learned about writing during the project then it has not been a waste of time and effort. Instead you have learned something you can use in your next project.

Quitting as a writer is altogether different. By quitting you are saying that God never called you. If you say no, God called you and it didn’t work out then you are saying God made a mistake. God never makes mistakes! So you need to re-evaluate your calling. Did He call you to be an author or not? If He did then you can’t quit, because it would be disobedience.

Assuming therefore God called you to be a writer then you need to evaluate your writing. What is stopping you? Are you in the right genre? Do you need additional skills?

When I was trying to write and not succeeding it was very frustrating. To offset this I wrote computer programs (most of which were used only personally) and poetry (which helped me win my wife). But behind it all I still had that drive, that calling to write. I often prayed about it and would pick up pen and paper and try again. I even developed a model train hobby that I converted into a story. It didn’t work, but my point is I kept trying.

In my case the solution came through my daily devotions as God showed me that the Bible is loaded with true stories waiting to be the foundation for novels. Your experience will probably be different except that God is just as interested in your success as mine. So keep your prayer life strong and listen for His guidance.

Not only did God open the door for my writing career to open, He also opened the door for my wife and I to become the publisher of our own books (soon she will have her first novel published). In 2014 God gave me the idea for being a self-publisher in the truest form. I talked to my wife and she immediately was enthused. Thus was born T&R Independent Books with her as president and yours truly as vice president. This decision opened the door for us and provided us not only with greater potential earnings but with greater control over every aspect of writing. But it wouldn’t have happened if we weren’t listening to God!

It is my belief that roadblocks in a Christian’s life are there for a reason. Sometimes it means quit  a project to be sure, but never to quit doing His will. Roadblocks come with multiple solutions which could include plowing through them, going around them, going over them, or even going under them. In other words, roadblocks are often opportunities. We just need to stop, pray, and seek to discover what the opportunity facing us might be.

So if you’ve been called to write don’t let a roadblock stop you. It might just be God trying to get your attention and redirect your path.

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books and is best known for Historical Fiction. For more information on him or his books visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.

Bind them continually upon thine heart

Bind them continually upon thine heart

“Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck.” Prov. 6:21

This verse is referencing the Word of God as the Father’s commandments. Today I want to apply it specifically to authors.

Perhaps because I am an author I am slightly biased. Since we deal with communicating to people, albeit through fiction, I think we need God’s wisdom to a very high degree.

Thousands of books are published every week and tens of thousands every year. All authors are trying to sell their books to the widest audience possible. I am no exception. And we need God’s wisdom if we are to succeed.

I’ve talked before about the principles of God’s Word and I don’t want to be merely repeating myself. So instead of talking about marketing advice seen through the lens of the Bible, I want to talk about God’s wisdom and how it helps us write better.

Every book I’ve written has been bathed in prayer. It is not enough to merely follow principles, whether they are secular or spiritual. Writing is more than that. It involves the plot of the work, the characters involved, and the cohesiveness of the story. For that to happen requires a great deal of skill. But it also demands more.

People talk about inspiration being required. I’ve talked about being inspired, but it goes beyond simply being inspired to write. We need God’s guiding hand as we write every scene and develop every character.

It can be taxing, but when we have God in our corner it makes things much easier. Whether writing Perished, or World of Noah and the Ark, or even the current writing of World of Shem I have needed God’s guidance. I seek God’s guidance. I’m not talking about formal prayer, which I do, but of communicating to God throughout the process.

This involves talking to Him about every scene, indeed every word. I approach my writing in the spirit of open prayer. Sometimes it is unconscious praying and sometimes I actually ask Him directly. I ask questions like,

  • How do I write this scene?
  • Is this scene too suggestive?
  • Is this character believable?

Sometimes I have typed several words or entire sentences and upon further evaluation have erased them. We’ve all done this, but the question is was God involved in the process.

How do I involve God?

That’s not a hard question to answer. If you are a Christian, having received Christ as your Savior and you have been called to write, then you can expect His involvement. He doesn’t call and then abandon.

On the other hand, He doesn’t force His Will upon us. According to Psalm 32:8 He will guide us. That is a two-fold promise. On the one hand, God promises to guide us, but on the other hand we are responsible to listen to Him and obey.

What a great feeling it is when we have written a story and can say that God helped us all along the way! Whatever genre you write in you can count on His help as long as you are doing it His way. And that is a source of a huge sense of confidence and peace.

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books and is best known for Historical Fiction. For more information on him or his books visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com. You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.

5 STAR REVIEW OF PERISHED

5 STAR REVIEW OF PERISHED

The following review was posted by a reader on Amazon. (http://amzn.to/2u1Y409)

This book was like a dialogue to the bible. I could feel and hear each character…they became life like or real to me in the way the author pended their various responses and reactions to their unique situations. My favourite chapters were 44 and 45, where Queen Esther expressed her love for both men. The one she was in love with before she was ordered to marry the King-something she became willing to do and her now established love,for the King-something that obviously grew with time. I also loved the King’s reaction upon his death bed in that he now entrusted the life of his soon to be widowed wife back to the man with whom she was previously in love. I loved how she displayed faithfulness and trust in a most uncertain time in her life..a time when her daughter-in-law was seeking to take her place as Queen. This gives a fresh feel to the bible and is a real eye opener. I will definitely be looking out for book 2.

As noted above the link to this book on Amazon.com is http://amzn.to/2u1Y409.

Oops – Correction on Special Announcement

Oops – Correction on Special Announcement

In my last blog I announced the publication of my book Perished on Smashwords. I also BookCoverImagePerishedannounced the availability to purchase the book at a 25% discount with the use of a coupon.

Unfortunately I typed the code wrong. The correct coupon code is:

LC78D

Since then I have also published on Smashwords the second book of the series. This book, World of Noah and the Ark, also has a coupon worth 25% off. It is PX66G.

You will particularly like this second book as it takes an in-depth look at the Ark itself. Some of the content replicates Perished, but there is also new content that includes the Flood itself and the eventual landing on Mt. Ararat.Noah Book CoverImage

But at the end of the book is a Q&A that delves into the world that existed, the Flood, the known facts of the Ark, what modern science has learned, and a comparison to the myth of the Epic of Gilgamesh.

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books. For more information on him visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com.

 

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT

In today’s blog I am happy to announce the publishing of Perished, Book One of the BookCoverImagePerishedWorld That Was series, on Smashwords. Not only published but in their Premium Catalog.

But that is now all. This eBook comes to you with a coupon enabling you to purchase the book with a 25% discount off the retail price! All you need is the coupon code, which is LC780.

Perished is the book that launched the series World That Was and the rights were purchased from the previous publisher. This enabled me to rework the book, including giving it a new cover. The story is taken from the Bible and tells the rest of the story from Creation to the Flood.

It is a story based on real life events covering the garden of Eden, the fall of man, expulsion from the garden of Eden, the murder of Cain, and the rise of immorality. It takes the reader into the personal lives of the people so that you feel like you know and understand them. Readers have found it so real they have to check the Bible to see what is fact and what is fiction.

Then, of course, is the Flood itself. The telling of the building of the Ark and the coming of the Flood comes alive! Great care has been taken to include the latest scientific facts within the story.

Although I have received 4 and 5 star reviews I am always looking for more reviews. So I am requesting that if you purchase and read the book that you will write a review no matter what your rating is. Then post it on Amazon or anywhere else you want. And if you have a website post it there as well.

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books. For more information on him visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to marketing@tr-indbkstore.com.

Are You A Real Author? Part I

Are You A Real Author? Part I

This four part blog asks you four questions and addresses each. Here is the first question:

Do you have a clear message?

Let me start at the beginning. When you write you should be writing with your reader in mind. Don’t get me wrong, I write books that I, the author, enjoy and so should you. But you also need to write for others.

Everyone of my books are written for people who enjoy Christian fiction and historical fiction. That said, what is your message?

Are you just relating a story or do you have something to offer? I believe that one reason it took so long before I published my first novel in 2003 is that every story I wrote had no message. But when I wrote Refuge: The Genesis Chronicles, I wrote with the idea of bringing the Biblical facts to life and giving people insights into the Biblical story.

Ever since then that or something similar has been my message: Bringing the facts to life. I would say that is one of the unique things I do. According to one reviewer I brought the people, places, and events alive giving her a deeper, wider understanding to the Biblical events.

The title of today’s blog is: Are you a Real Author. In other words, does your story jump off the pages? Do people like certain characters? Do they identify with them?

That is what the craft of writing is all about. Namely, to get the reader to use his/her imagination and be able to picture the unfolding story. If you can accomplish that you have become a real author!

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books. For more information on him visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured.

His eBook Perished: The World That Was can be found on Amazon Kindle. The paperback edition is found on Amazon.